From the moment Ronald Koeman was shown the exit door at Everton, there were instant murmurings of Sean Dyche stepping in as his successor.
Koeman paid the price for failing to transform Everton’s £140million outlay on summer transfers into results, with the club languishing in the bottom three by the time the Dutchman was sacked.
Burnley, meanwhile, who ended the last transfer window with a net spend of £15million, are high-flying under the gravel-voiced tactician. He celebrated five years in charge with a 1-0 win over Newcastle United at the end of October, a result which lifted the Clarets to seventh in the table, a position in which they remain.
The East Lancashire club have already comfortably eclipsed their away points tally for last season after defeating champions Chelsea on the opening weekend and earning draws away to Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool.
Dyche's side also beat Everton at Goodison Park in what was a convincing audition for the Toffees hot-seat from Dyche. Jeff Hendrick confidently finished off a 24-pass move to seal the points that day.
A respectful, diplomatic manager of considerable experience, Dyche knows better than to comment on speculation linking him with the Everton vacancy.
“It's the yin and the yang. You get praise, but you lose three games and then you're getting slaughtered,” Dyche told Sky Sports before the Newcastle win.
“I don't mean that in a precious way, it's just a fact, that's how quickly the shift occurs. You have managers out there who may have a tough streak, it doesn't make them a bad manager. They're just going through a tough spell.
“That can happen. So I don't read much in the media, I know what I've said so I don't keep checking up on things. There have been some nice things said recently, some nice links, but the fact is I'm still here and still working hard.”
“We just keep getting on with it. That's my focus and my team's focus. We have to do planning of course, but generally, we take each game as it comes, we work on that, then we process the information, debrief it and we move forward again and keep that clarity of thought. That's how we keep going.”
Burnley chairman Mike Garlick admitted that Dyche's links to the Everton job are the ‘price of success.'
“The more success we have, the more people are going to look at him,” Garlick told BBC Radio 5 Live. “But we look after him well and we hope he’s going to be here for a long time.”
Considering Koeman's struggles in integrating new signings into the first-team, Dyche's track record of building a squad is certainly attractive to the Merseyside club.
Despite Dyche losing centre-back Michael Keane and striker Andre Gray to Everton and Watford respectively during the summer, he has replaced both and fared even better.
The £15million capture of striker Chris Wood from Leeds United has already paid dividends, while Jack Cork has been outstanding alongside Steven Defour in midfield following his switch from Swansea City.
But, perhaps most satisfyingly, centre-back James Tarkowski has slotted in seamlessly alongside Ben Mee. Tarkowski was second-choice to Keane last season but has excelled this term – he has averaged the second-most clearances (8.8) and the joint highest blocks (1.7) per 90 minutes in the Premier League.
This speaks volumes about Dyche’s recruitment and ability to maintain a high level of competition throughout his squad.
Since taking charge in 2012, Dyche has led the Clarets to two promotions from the Championship and a 16th place finish in the Premier League.
His 42 per cent win record from 231 games is impressive given Burnley have the second lowest transfer budget in the Premier League and an average squad age of 28.
Dyche told the Daily Mail in August 2016 he believes his nationality has held him back from managing at an elite level.
He explained: “Antonio Conte came in at Chelsea and he got commended for bringing a hard, fast, new leadership to Chelsea which involved a lot of running.
“Come to training and see me doing that and people would say there’s a dinosaur English manager who hasn't got a clue.”
Given Burnley’s impressive start to the current campaign with only one league defeat at home to West Bromwich Albion, Dyche can feel quietly confident of pulling off a top ten finish in what is a congested mid-table.
But the 46-year-old can take a club of Burnley’s limited resources only so far and, having been mentioned for the Leicester City job before they appointed Claude Puel, the Clarets may well struggle to hold on to Dyche if Everton follow through on their interest and make an official approach.